PIHMS Hotel Leaders Conference 2023

13 December 2023

Conference Overview

The PIHMS 2023 hotel leaders conference included panel discussions with 15 hotel industry leaders from across New Zealand and Australia exploring topics such as adaptability & resilience, sustainability practices, customer-centric strategies, technological innovation, digital marketing, diversity & inclusion, employee well-being, supply chain & financial resilience, and data-driven management. The keynote speaker, James Doolan, the strategic director of Hotel Council Aotearoa (HCA) delivered a keynote speech focusing on sustainable growth in tourism, highlighting its role in benefiting New Zealand’s economy amid ongoing global challenges. 

Panellists Affiliations

Global brands: Accor New Zealand, Novotel; Langham Hospitality Group, Cordis Auckland; Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree by Hilton Karaka; Hyatt, Park Hyatt Auckland; IHG Hotels & Resorts; Millennium Hotels & Resorts. Key domestic brands: Scenic Hotel Group; SkyCity Hotel Group. Boutique accommodation providers: King and Queen Hotel Suites; Naumi Hotels; The Devon Hotel New Plymouth. Management consulting organisation: RINGA Management Ltd, contracted to the Te Rere o Kapuni lodge development. Industry and public associations: Hotel Council Aotearoa. 

Previous Conference

In 2022, the PIHMS Hotel Leaders Conference, a student-run event integral to the Bachelor’s in Applied Hospitality and Tourism Management programme, focused on adaptation, sustainability, and innovation within the hotel and hospitality industry. This conference not only represented a significant aspect of their final year event project but also embodied their learning journey and practical experience. Building on the overwhelming success and positive feedback from the 2021, 2022, and 2023 conferences, PIHMS has initiated plans for a 2024 Hotel Leaders Conference, continuing its tradition of insightful industry engagement. 

Conference Highlights

In his keynote speech, James Doolan, Strategic Director of HCA, emphasised the importance of embracing growth in the tourism industry. Reflecting on his experiences, including a memorable encounter with Bill Marriott, Doolan highlighted the essence of hospitality and the significance of ‘thinking small’ through constant acts of service. Shifting focus, he urged the audience to ‘think bigger’ and consider the inevitability of tourism growth and its impact on the hotel industry. He addressed challenges like climate change, New Zealand’s geographic isolation, and the impact of tourism on natural destinations, advocating for sustainable growth rather than restrictions. Doolan discussed demographic and technological trends favouring travel, arguing that real experiences are enhanced by technology, not replaced by it. He proposed strategies like diversifying tourism offerings, developing infrastructure, and better utilisation of national parks. Emphasising the need for innovative funding and collaborative planning, Doolan envisioned a future where growth in tourism is not only inevitable but beneficial, providing wealth and employment while preserving New Zealand’s natural beauty and culture. 

Panellists included managing directors, hotel owners, general managers, hotel managers, operations managers, and human resource managers as well as private and public sector leaders from a wide range of organisations.

The conference framework was developed through stakeholder consultation and consisted of 5 panel discussions: (1) Management; (2) Marketing; (3) Human Resources; (4) Operations; (5) Finance. The management panel delved into adaptability, customer-centric approaches, and technology integration. The marketing panel explored data-driven personalization, digital transformation, and eco-friendly strategies. The human resources panel focused on diversity, staff well-being, and adaptability training. The operations panel emphasised operational agility, supply chain resilience, and sustainable practices. The finance panel addressed financial resilience, innovative revenue management, environmental impacts, and diversifying income streams, highlighting holistic approaches in the hotel industry.

Conference Impact

The 2023 PIHMS conference informed conference participants from the hotel industry, the hospitality and tourism workforce, hospitality sector owner/operators, career advisors, and future graduates from hotel management or hospitality degrees. PIHMS will use recordings of the panel discussions to enhance student learning in the classroom, and identify key topics and issues raised by the industry leaders to be shared back to stakeholders through a range of research outputs. 

The Future

PIHMS is committed to hosting its hotel industry leaders conference on an annual basis, creating a recurring platform for ongoing, beneficial discussions among hospitality professionals in the ever-evolving hotel and hospitality sectors. 

Thanks to Panellists

PIHMS expresses sincerest gratitude to panellists who have taken time out of their busy schedule to participate in the conference – Aroha Matthews, Relief General Manager, Millennium Hotels & Resorts; Brett Sweetman, General Manager, Park Hyatt Auckland Viaduct; Brooklyn Middleton, Human Resources Manager, IHG Hotels & Resorts; Craig Binney, Head of People & Culture, Scenic Hotel Group; Daniel Fleming, General Manager & Co-owner, King and Queen Hotel Suites; Franz Mascarenhas, Managing Director, Cordis; Gert Venter, Hotel Manager, Doubletree by Hilton Karaka; James Cunningham, Business Development Manager, Novotel New Plymouth; James Doolan, HCA Strategic Director, Hotel Council Aotearoa; Jacqui Paurini, Talent Acquisition Manager, Accor New Zealand; Jean Hanekom, Director of Operations, Australia & New Zealand, Naumi Hotels; Josh Cleaver, Operations Manager, The Devon Hotel New Plymouth; Michael Anderson, Director of Hotel Operations, SkyCity Hotel Group; Ngawai Hernandez-Walden, Managing Director, Business Management Specialist, RINGA Management Ltd; Sam Swaffield, Director of Performance, JAPAC, IHG Hotels & Resorts. 

Thanks to Sponsors

PIHMS expresses gratitude to our local sponsors and providers – Bidfood NZ, Juno Gin, Palmers Garden Centre, PSL Productions Ltd, Shining Peak Brewing, The Devon Hotel, and The Hour Glass that have made the event possible and a success.

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